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Wednesday, June 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Judge Lowers Jail Terms for 2 Members of ‘Cuban 5’

(CN) - A federal judge in Miami reduced the sentences of two Cuban intelligence agents convicted of spying on the U.S. military and Cuban exiles in Florida.

U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard reduced the life sentence of Ramon Labanino, also known as Luis Medina, to 30 years. She also slightly lowered the sentence of Fernando Gonzalez from 19 years to 18 years.

A third spy, Antonio Guerrero, had his life sentence reduced to 22 years in October.

Gerardo Hernandez, one of the Cuban Five who's serving two life terms plus 15 years, "has been arbitrarily excluded from this resentencing process," Medina, Guerrero and Gonzalez stated in a press release Tuesday.

"His situation remains the principal injustice in our case," they wrote. "The U.S. Government is well aware of the falseness of the accusations against him and the unfairness of his sentence."

The Cuban Five were active in an intelligence network called La Red Avispa ("The Wasp Network"). The South Florida spy network was linked to a 1996 incident in which Cuban military jets shot down two private aircraft over international waters, killing four men, during a mission called "Operacion Escorpion."

After a six-month trial, the men were convicted of espionage, and one agent was convicted of conspiracy to murder. They appealed.

A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit upheld their sentences and convictions, but the case was later reheard before the full court. The Atlanta-based court then vacated the sentences of Ruben Campa, Medina and Guerrero, but upheld the sentences of Hernandez and Gonzalez.

Judge Lenard described their plot to infiltrate the military and the camps of anti-Castro politicians as "vigilantism."

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